‘Pride Month is a significant moment in our ritual calendar’

10 June 2024 – 4 Sivan 5784

North West Surrey Synagogue on Pride Shabbat 1

By Rabbi Kath Vardi

Happy Pride!

Historically, very many religious communities have not been welcoming places for LGBTQI+ people. Often built around heteronormative assumptions, religious institutions have been guilty of ‘blindness’ at best and outright discrimination at worst.

Progressive Judaism is different. We are founded on the values of justice and diversity – and that is the kind of religious community we strive to build together.

North West Surrey Synagogue on Pride Shabbat 2

Our Progressive congregations are communities of all our members and all those who love them. It is through embracing and celebrating our differences and richness that our communal thriving is born.

We recognise that Judaism is a living, changing and thriving force in the lives of our members and that our ancient tradition has much wisdom to offer a contemporary world that can sometimes feel confronting.

Ancient wisdom however is not the same as outmoded and narrow views of what is deemed to be ‘proper’ and what is not. And whilst, for many, the unique challenges faced by members of the LGBTQI+ community may feel less pressing than in previous decades, we would be wise not to fall into complacency. LGBTQI+ rights and protections are being rolled back in many parts of the world, both explicitly and in more hidden, but no less detrimental, ways.

It is for all these reasons that Progressive Judaism is proud to support Pride Month and Pride Shabbat, which have both become significant moments in our ritual calendar.

However, let us also remember that Pride Month is just one month out of 12.

Becoming truly diverse and inclusive communities means committing to building shared spaces where we each are honoured in our uniqueness, not only in June but every day of the year.

  • Rabbi Kath Vardi is Co-Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors and Rabbi at North West Surrey Synagogue (pictured on last year’s Pride Shabbat). She is writing on behalf of Progressive Judaism.

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